Big Tobacco use menthol cigarette ban to promote rival products

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The tobacco giant Philip Morris has taken advantage of the UK’s ban on menthol cigarettes to promote its new tobacco product, despite heavy restrictions on advertising tobacco, reports The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

In the run up to the ban the company hired sales reps to promote its menthol heated tobacco products directly to newsagents, one of the only legal ways it can advertise in the UK, where almost all tobacco advertising is banned. It also offered promotional menthol kits and trials for new customers, with half-price tobacco sticks in any of its four menthol flavours.

Philip Morris has described the ban – which began on May 20 – as a “huge opportunity” for its business as the 1.3m menthol smokers in the UK consider their options.

As smoking rates decline globally, Philip Morris has pursued alternative products, including heated tobacco, which is exempted from the UK’s menthol ban. As the first company to introduce a heated tobacco product in the UK – its Iqos heat-not-burn device – Philip Morris is expected to capitalise on the loophole.

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